Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weeks of January 11 - January 30, 2016

We send our love to all from Brazil. We still love starting every day with an early morning walk along the beach in Vitória. Sister Burkinshaw says she always wanted to live by water so this has been an added blessing of serving a mission here in Vitória.

Sunrise (about 5:50am) from Ilha do Boi in Vitória.
One Saturday morning (P-Day) we saw a triathalon (ride, run, swim) on the Ilha do Boi.  Notice the water truck (left) which waters plants and grass on days that it doesn't rain.
We regularly see rowers on our morning walk along the beach.  By the way, Vitória beaches are pristine without the problems you may have heard in Rio de Janeiro.
Things are going well in the Escritório da Missão (Mission office). We feel like we understand the workings of the mission now, have things somewhat organized and are truly enjoying serving the young missionaries. They truly have a light, optimistic outlook on life (especially missionary work) and are so appreciative of all we do to make things run smoothly for them. A few examples:

We have tried for several months to get the Teófilo Otoni Elders into a new home. They have been in the same house for 11 years, which was working well until the last half of the year when they started having water leak into the house from a neighbors drain, which we were never able to repair, hence the relocation.  After several attempts to rent a new apartment (a multi-step process with many forms and documents required which makes it a very long and complicated process), we finally closed a contract on a very nice apartment.  Unfortunately, the proprietor did not tell us the electricity had been disconnected.  Normally, we just leave the power on in the name of the proprietor or the last renter since the process in changing the name on the electricity bill requires multiple notarized documents and several hours waiting in line.  And this time, they required a notarized copy of the Church's original charter (1967 in São Paulo) and the Procuration of the Mission President giving him authority to act on behalf of the Church.  Then we had to send these documents to a city 11 hours north of Vitória.  When we told the Elders it would take 10 days (i.e. no refrigerator, lights, fans or heated showers) the district leader, Elder Dias, responded happily that it would be no problem and they would make it work.  In the end, they met the family who lives in the apartment above them and they offered a live extension cord and any other help they needed.  The Elders are now teaching that family.

Elder Burkinshaw, Elder Cardoso and Elder Fernandes at the Praia da Costa Mall in front of the McDonald's ice cream stand just before enjoying a McFlurry. 
We had an Elder and a Sister come in on the bus from outlying areas in the mission to renew their Brazilian visa - one from Cabo Verde and one from Mozambique.  Sister Burkinshaw has to complete a detailed form and then schedule online an appointment with the Polícia Federal at the nearby Praia da Costa Mall.  When they come in, we treat them to lunch in the food court before their appointment and then afterward, Elder Burkinshaw loves to take them for a sorvete (ice cream) treat.  While we would love to introduce them to Braums ice cream (Vitória is not within the 300 mile radius of Tuttle, OK ;-)  they do have a McDonald's ice cream stand.  They are always so appreciative and the Elders offered a verbal thank-you while Sisters prepared a nice thank-you note.  This is a manifestation of one of the key traits that President and Sister Young have tried to engender within each of the missionaries, GRATIDÃO (gratitude)!

A poster of the Christ-like virtues emphasized in the Brazil Vitória Mission.
Since we work all day and evening in the mission office, we don't have many opportunities to teach but we were recently assigned to five families to home teach so we leave the office early when we make visits or go on Sunday afternoon.  Our families are a mix of new members and established multi-generational members.  We are reminded of how much you come to love those you serve. All of them are a blessing to the growth and spirit of the ward.  Speaking to full-time missionaries but counsel applicable to us all, President Russell M. Nelson, said, “... you can always have you as a convert... You should be rock solid, absolutely true and faithful all of your lives.” (Pres. Russell M. Nelson—Provo MTC 22-01-2016).  We are also very impressed with the young adults in the wards, many who are returned missionaries and have a great attitude and provide special strength to the wards. Many serve in the youth program and teach not only in word, but by example.  These young adults remind us of the story that President Monson recently shared again in General Conference about the establishment of the BYU Jerusalem Center.  "In order to obtain the permissions needed, the Church had to agree that no proselyting would be undertaken by our members who would occupy the center.  After that agreement had been made, one of the Israeli officials, who was well acquainted with the Church and its members, remarked that he knew the Church would honor the no-proselyting agreement. 'But,' he said, referring to the students who would attend there, 'what are we going to do about the light that is in their eyes?' "  President Monson then continued, "May that special light ever shine within us, that it might be recognized and appreciated by others." (Be an Example and a Light, General Conference, October 2015).  We recognize and appreciate the light that shines in these young adults and the love they show to us.

Hometeaching (left to right) Dayane Gomes (a recently returned-missionary and our guide), Almira da Silveira (who joined the church two years ago) Paulo and Renata Cardoso (Renata was baptized last week) and daughter Mayra (baptized in December).
Our missionaries are not perfect, but where they fall short, the Spirit compensates.  This past week, President Young asked Sister Burkinshaw if it would be possible to identify among those baptized, how many were families.  Sister Burkinshaw replied, "Even going back through the fichas (baptismal recommends) or photos of the fichas (which is how the missionaries send them to her by e-mail) one at a time to extract the information would not provide a complete list because the missionaries often do complete the information on marriages or children for converts.  (With the help of the Spirit) I become aware of that as I am putting the information in the system and try to connect family membership when I can, sometimes it has been months, but the name and information comes making it possible to connect the memberships." The spirit of Elijah is at work here in the mission. " is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times,....that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place...." D&C 128:18.

We have enjoyed two special events during the month of January.  One was the world-wide broadcast for Missionaries held on Wednesday, January 20th.  We were able to view it from the mission office while the other missionaries gathered to centrally located chapels to watch the broadcast together.  The theme was "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts". The emphasis on teaching repentance is needed. Change is a part of accepting the Lord's standards as opposed to the world's. It is a process for sure, but there must be a solid understanding of the need to repent and the role of the Savior in that process. What follows is a few of the thoughts from Elder Neil L. Andersen which Sister Burkinshaw included in the newsletter for this next transfer.

Elder Neil L. Andersen—Missionary Broadcast, 20 Jan 2016
“The most important thing we do is testify of the Savior and invite all to come unto Him....Always keep His name on your lips and be prepared to testify of Him when the opportunity comes for “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven.” (Matt. 10:32)....We testify of Christ when we TEACH the DOCTRINE OF CHRIST....the doctrine clearly stated in the missionary purpose which is:  ‘Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, REPENTANCE, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.’....Your first responsibility is to help lift people in their understanding of the Savior´s Atonement. (how do you do that PMG says) ‘As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the ‘great....importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth’ (2 Nefí 2:8)....Be careful not to move too quickly from your powerful witness of faith to the challenge of baptism without sufficient teaching about REPENTANCE....Repentance is critical to faith in Jesus Christ.”

This past Sunday we were asked to do a fireside in one of the wards on missonary work. Elder Burkinshaw put together a PowerPoint presentation that was very well received. The chapel was full and we were reminded again of what good people these are, and that they are anxious to learn and do their part to build the Kingdom. We provided some interesting statistics of the churches growth worldwide and the growth here in Brazil. Elder Burkinshaw ended on a personal note with the stories of two of his own baptisms 42 years ago in São Paulo. Several years ago when Facebook was becoming popular (we were not on Facebook yet) we got a call one day from a couple of our daughters who said someone from Brazil wanted to visit with Elder Burkinshaw. They connected on the 30th anniversary of Brother Yabe's baptism.  As we participate in the baptisms the missionaries are having here we are reminded of the joy that comes in watching them "baptize converts".  How appropriate that the scripture we go to when we think of that joy (D&C 18:15-16) not only reminds us of "the worth of a soul", but teaches that "...the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh wherefore he suffered the pains of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him... how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!" (D&C 18:10-16 - the exclamation point is in the scriptures). Sister Burkinshaw couldn't help but remember hearing many times in her home growing up the song "O That I Were an Angel" spoken of in Alma 29:1 "O that I were angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" We are so grateful to be here in Brazil and a part of this work!!

Fireside Presentation:  English       Portuguese

Poster prepared by the Laranjeiras ward for the missionary fireside held on January 24th.
Elder Carvalho, Elder T. Garcia, Ward Mission Leader, Presidente Osorio (Mission Presidency Counselor), Sister and Elder Burkinshaw in front of the Laranjeiras Chapel following the Fireside.

Avante Vitória!

Elder and Sister Burkinshaw

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